– by Mark Cook

Last week’s episode of Arrow looked to get the show on track for the season with Slade’s son, Kane, being the head of the Jakals. Will Slade have to choose between Oliver and Kane? It looks like it. Who will he choose? The ally/enemy/ally again, or will he try to mend the broken relationship between he and his son? Also, Ricardo Dragon comes to give Team Arrow a run for their money.

Read on to find out what happens:

Slade and Kane — The episode jumps right into the heart of the action with Slade and Kane playing “catch-up” rather quickly. Slade offers to join the Jakals in order to help his son when Slade begins to question his son’s motives. The conflict between characters intensifies as Oliver questions Slade, and reassures him that he is not the man he thinks he is. Slade heads into a mission with his son, yet tells Oliver to retrieve the receiver for a weapon that could attack water supplies.

How is Slade going to choose a side?

In the aftermath of their mission, Kane questions Slade’s motives as he missed a clear kill shot in which he then brings a captured Oliver in for Slade to prove himself demanding he take an eye for an eye (literally). The anticipation leading to Slade’s decision was awesome, which lead to him cutting Oliver’s arm restraints. Oliver responds by knocking Kane out as they attempt to escape leading to Kane vowing to kill his father. Through this experience, Oliver and Slade are closer now than ever before due to their connections regarding their sons. This closeness will make their decisions moving forward much more difficult.

Oliver is a continual voice of reason for Slade, which was a great contrast to his time on the island when the roles were switched. Both individuals want to prioritize their sons, but realize they must concede in certain areas due to the nature of the lives they lead (more so Slade than Oliver at this point). A confrontation between Kane and Slade ensues while revealing that Slade has another son, Grant, who his mother wanted to keep away from the life Kane and Slade live. It is then revealed that Kane saw Slade kill the man on their camping trip that we saw in the flashbacks, and informs him that he killed months after witnessing the event. Speaking of flashbacks…

The Return of the Flashbacks — We still have the flashbacks, but they have taken a different, much welcomed, approach: using the flashbacks for Slade. Viewers get to see the aftermath of he and Oliver’s fight from Season 2 after Slade’s eye was stabbed out. It appears as if Kane (Joseph at that time) came to his father’s side as Slade promised to never leave him again. This obviously wasn’t the case, which highlights the tension between he and his son. The flashbacks also show Slade training Kane and the reveal of the prototype Deathstroke suit, which was awesome to see.  We get to see some flashbacks within the flashbacks which parallel Slade training Kane with Slade training Oliver. This is where Shado also begins to haunt his mind.

This episode has been a great connection to Seasons 1 and 2. There have been some subtle connections that I hadn’t given much thought to that have been fun to see. We all knew Shado was plaguing his mind, but seeing him take down the Australian Intelligence Agency and confront his son made a strong impact. If they can keep this going, Season 6 may be successful after all. Shado continues to haunt Slade’s mind throughout his rehabilitation and training. The depth of this episode has been wonderful! It has encompassed so many layers that episodes earlier in the season have been lacking. As Slade goes rogue at the Australian Intelligence compound, he dismantles many of the men there with a culminating shot of the Deathstroke prototype. The mirakuru has completely taken control of Slade resulting in him knocking his son out before abandoning his promise.

Enter Ricardo Dragon — The team takes to the field and we see that Diggle hasn’t taken his drugs recently as his nerve damage is clearly back. Ricardo Diaz (Dragon) is a charter known in the DC world who was the father of Richard Dragon. Ricardo was known as an expert martial artist, and crime lord who saw his father humiliated by the Green Arrow and Diggle. Ricardo was also known in the comics for training with the League of Assassins. The individual behind Diggle’s mysterious drug is revealed to be…Ricardo Dragon himself. The reveal was a great connection, which will lead to further conflict, albeit the time that lapsed between the first time Diggle took the drug, and the connection to Dragon was a bit long.

This story line has strong potential, but I still find Diggle and Team Arrow to be the weak spot of the show. This at least gives them some relevance compared to other episodes where it felt as if they were there merely because the writers felt they needed to be. Now, will Dragon and Kane have any connections, or will they be two separate foes? Dragon apparently wants a weaponized 3-D printer in order to create his own drugs for distribution. Diggle confides in his wife, Lyla, about the illegal steroids he has been taking and the connection to Dragon, much to her dismay.

As Diggle and the team confront Dragon and his men, Diggle is disheartened as he sees all of the steroids being blown up. What will he do? How will he cope at this point? Well, Diggle ends up confiding in the team and apologizing to them for what he has been going through, and what he has put them through. He and Dinah promise to have no more secrets between them, yet Dinah is clearly hiding that she knows the identity of The Vigilante.

Next week looks to switch back to the Cayden James / Black Siren story line, which I am honestly not too thrilled about. I didn’t enjoy the previous episodes involving those characters, and I feel that it is going to kill the good flow the show has at the moment. What did you think of tonight’s episode? Bringing the characters of Slade and Kane into the fold has been a game-changer, but it feels as if two completely separate stories are happening. How do you think they will merge the two? Could Dragon be connected to Kane, or was he brought in to merely give Team Arrow some relevance? Leave your comments in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!

Arrow returns next Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.

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